Each week throughout the NFL season, we’ll take a look at the three biggest public plays on the board and speculate what the public sees and why they are betting a particular side.
We’ll also be tracking these plays throughout the year to see how Joe Public is faring in the NFL.
Last Week: 0-3 ATS
Season: 4-5 ATS
* * *
BENGALS @ JAGUARS, 4:05 P.M. ET
Open: Cincinnati -2.5
Current: Cincinnati -1
Public Betting %: 82% on Cincinnati
What they see: The Jaguars are one of the least attractive teams for bettors in the entire league, so there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing them on this weekly feature quite a bit. And when you only have to lay a couple points to bet against them, bettors will surely gobble that up.
Analysis: Here’s the thing about the Bengals since Andy Dalton took over as the starting quarterback in the 2011 season-opener: They beat the teams they’re supposed to beat, and they lose every game against a good team.
That’s continued this season, with a blowout loss at Baltimore followed by back-to-back wins over Cleveland and Washington.
We’re not rushing to the counter to bet either one of these sides, but it’s hard to talk yourself into Jacksonville when you see that Cincinnati is 11-0 against non-playoff teams since Dalton took over.
* * *
PATRIOTS @ BILLS, 1 P.M. ET
Open: New England -6
Current: New England -4.5
Public Betting %: 81% on New England
What they see: It’s Bill Belichick trying to avoid three straight losses for the first time since 2002, the year after he won his first Super Bowl. The Patriots are 18-2 straight up and 13-6-1 ATS against the Bills over the past 10 seasons.
Analysis: The Bills have basically spent the past few seasons building their team to beat the Patriots. That was magnified this offseason when they went out and acquired pass rushers Mario Williams and Mark Anderson so they could harass Tom Brady as much as possible.
Buffalo could be a playoff contender this season, but the team still pretty much views this game as its Super Bowl.
But on the other side, you have Belichick, a tactical genius who never lets his team go on losing skids and is one of the best ATS coaches in the league (33-18) off a straight-up loss.
* * *
49ERS @ JETS, 1 P.M. ET
Open: San Francisco -3.5
Current: San Francisco -4.5
Public Betting %: 78% on San Francisco
What they see: A Jets team that just lost quite possibly its best player, cornerback Darrelle Revis, going against a highly public 49ers team that should be able to shut down the ground game and make Mark Sanchez beat them.
Analysis: The Niners were one of the most popular picks on the board last week as touchdown favorites at Minnesota, and that didn’t work out so well in an outright loss.
Now, bettors are banking on coach Jim Harbaugh’s ability to get his team’s attention after an ugly loss, and we tend to agree.
Also, we have to see how the Jets’ defense reacts without Revis, the best cornerback in the game. From a post on NFL.com:
There are some injuries you can adjust for. This isn’t one of them. Revis erased the opposition’s best receiver each week and allowed the field to become smaller for the rest of the group. The Jets defense lacks players in its front seven that can win one-on-one matchups. They have to beat you with their scheme. They have to beat you with confusion. No one in that group scares defenses.
“Maybe we play some opponents differently,” [Rex] Ryan said. “There are different ways to skin a cat. You can’t just take away their best receiver with one guy. But we’ll find a way.”